Monday, June 6, 2011

Adventures in Local Eating in Dallas, TX

Hello to all of Sarah’s blog followers! My name is Liz and I’m a college friend of Sarah’s. I’m a Texas girl who loves food so I decided to take on the challenge of scoping out local food in my hometown. I buy organic foods whenever possible but eating local is an idea that seemed nice in theory but difficult in practice. Contrary to popular belief, Dallas is not just about Tex-Mex and red meat (although we do love a good enchilada). I feel incredibly lucky to live in this city that has such an amazing and varied restaurant scene so why not see what Dallas could offer me in terms of eating local? For this post I tried out a restaurant and two different markets each in a unique neighborhood in the Dallas area.

First was Company Cafe. When Sarah and Russell were in town over Memorial Day weekend I knew exactly where I wanted to take them for lunch. I had been dying for an excuse to try out this relatively new restaurant in Lower Greenville only a few minutes from my apartment. Sarah and I split the Deep Bowl, an amazing concoction of ground buffalo, sweet potato hash, and two eggs topped with avocado. I would have never thought to combine ground buffalo with sweet potato, but it was quite tasty. Russell had the Veggie RX which was a giant omelet topped with tons of seasonal vegetables. This wasn’t your ordinary omelet overstuffed with cheese and a few measly vegetables on top - you couldn’t even see the eggs because of all the veggies piled on! Needless to say, Company Cafe was a success (all 3 of us cleaned our plates) and I will definitely go back soon. The grass fed burger caught my eye so that will be next on the menu for me to try. 

My next stop was the Green Spot Market in Lakewood, an eclectic combination of gas station, cafe, store, and on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month the site for the White Rock Local Market ….talk about multitasking! On my last visit to the Green Spot I bought a carton of blue eggs from a local farm. They have regular brown eggs as well but I thought the blue eggs were unique and fun, plus they were delicious. On this visit I was on a mission to try their grass fed burger, but unfortunately they were out of meat. They only bring enough meat to cook for that day and once they’re out, they’re out. I did get the chicken tacos which are a simple combination of chicken, spinach, guacamole and queso blanco cooked fresh right in front of me. 

My last (and favorite) stop on my local eats adventure took me to the always hip Oak Cliff neighborhood to peruse Urban Acres. Urban Acres makes me incredibly happy because they are a farm store in the middle of the city that brings in local produce, dairy, and meat from farms in North Texas. Judging from the long check-out line that formed this Saturday when I was shopping it seems to be catching on with others as well. Members of Urban Acres's co-op can pick up fresh, seasonal, local produce every two weeks. The huge bins of produce reserved for the half and full share co-op members tempted me but I had to stick to the small section laid out for us non co-op members. I still managed to grab several fresh ears of corn that I cooked over at my parents’ house for a family Sunday lunch, and I must say the corn was the hit of the meal! I also bought local, organic milk from Texas Daily Harvest, pastured chicken from Windy Meadow Farms, and eggs from Busy B’s Market.  My favorite find however was the “zip code honey”.  This honey was made right in Dallas by local “urban bee wranglers” Brandon and Susan Pollard (Texas Honeybee Guild).  So not only did I find local food from farms outside of Dallas, but I found honey made from Dallas honeybees!

Dallas might not have the wealth of farmers markets that other parts of the county are lucky enough to have and, due to our geography, there are limitations as to the local produce available. Forunately,  with just a little research I was able to find quality local produce and support local farmers without leaving the city limits. Now that I know I can go to a store and get milk, eggs, poultry and even some produce from local North Texas farmers, it seems silly to buy the same items from a big name grocery store when I don't know where that food is coming from.

Liz works in banking in west Dallas and is an expert in cuisine in the Park Cities area.

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